Partners raided over laundering claims

TWO LONDON partners from US firm Faegre & Benson were last week questioned by police over the alleged laundering of "at least $US50 million" on behalf of organised crime gangs in Russia.

The partners, who have not been named, were arrested in London last week along with one of their wives, a Russian businesswoman.

The three were questioned over allegations that London financial institutions, including a high street bank, had been used to conceal laundering activities. It is alleged money was then put through a Channel Island company.

A spokeswoman for the South-East Regional Crime Squad says the trio had been observed by police for 18 months. They were held for a day before being released on police bail until September.

Raids on the firm and their homes resulted in the seizure of documents, computer disks and fax machines.

The spokeswoman says the money laundering investigation team is hoping to press charges based on information uncovered by the raid.

She says investigators are trying to discover how much of the alleged amount of $US50 million came from legitimate business deals.

She stresses the rest of the firm – comprising 150 partners – is "completely legitimate and exonerated".

The London office of Faegre & Benson refused to comment on the situation.

Spokesmen in the Minneapolis head office were unable to be contacted.